Health officials ask people to reconsider how they say hello

Coronavirus

It may sound strange but concerns over Covid-19 have Hawaii doctors telling residents to re-consider how they say hello.

Dr. Kalani Brady is on the state epidemiologist advisory committee and a Native Hawaiian, he said he has stopped greeting people the traditional way with a kiss, hug or ha (breath), and said other people should start doing the same.

“When we had epidemics that decimated Hawaii’s people in the 19th century, influenza was a perfect example of that, where we would share the breath of life, the ha, in greeting one another and of course we’re inhaling the influenza virus at the time, and hundreds of thousands of Hawaiians died during the 19th century and the population went from perhaps 800,000 to a couple hundred thousand,” said Dr. Brady.

He said another problem with the virus that you can have it, and not know it and within several days symptoms can start to appear.

“You may have a slight cough or runny nose which you assume is allergies or a cold and you can spread the virus at that point because you’re communicable because you’re infectious,” he explained. “But then you may get the disease itself later on in the course of the disease.”

As for the Oahu man who tested positive on Friday, Dr. Brady said the fact the patient is being quarantined at home is a good sign.

“If this patient is at home they are at home to protect people of transmitting the coronavirus,” he said. “It’s obviously safe for this patient with apparently a mild case of the disease to be at home and monitored by a doctor over the phone.”

He said cases of coronavirus typically occur when a person who has the virus coughs or sneezes or has close contact within 3-to-6 feet of someone for several minutes.

For anyone who catches the virus, he said it’s more common to have mild symptoms than severe.

“Severe coronavirus illness includes lower respiratory issues like pneumonia, which is evidence by shortness of breath, a severe cough and high fevers of 102, 103 degrees,” Dr. Brady explained.

“The important part about this virus is that it does not generally kill. It can kill the elderly especially with immunocompromised such as lung diseases or heart disease, but it doesn’t generally kill and what we know now is that it probably doesn’t affect children nearly as bad for example as an influenza virus does.”

Dr. Brady said it typically takes a year for a vaccine to be created so in the meantime he suggests waving, bowing or air high fives as a way to greet someone to help prevent any possible spread of the virus.

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